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Durham University

Durham Centre for Soft Matter

Events Archive

16-18 September 2019: Droplets 2019 meeting

Durham is hosting the 2019 international Droplets meeting, an interdisciplinary workshop that has run every two years since 2013. For more information, please see the meeting's dedicated web site.

8-18 July 2019: CCP5 Simulation Summer School

Durham is hosting the CCP5 international summer school on computer simulation in 2019, 2020 and 2021. The school is supported by CECAM and covers a broad range of simulation theory and applications in the molcular sciences and soft matter. Students will be housed at Stephenson College and the lectures and computer practicals will take place on the science campus at Lower Mountjoy. Towards the end of the school, there will be a banquet in the Great Hall of Durham Castle. For more information, please visit the school's web site.

13 June 2019: Seminar by Dr Elsen Tjhung

1pm, Ogden Centre West, room 017

Dr Elsen Tjhung, from the group of Prof. Mike Cates in the Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics (DAMTP) at the University of Cambridge, will be visiting from 10 to 14 June, hosted by Prof. Suzanne Fielding. He will speak about his work on liquid crystals:

Rheology and Phases of Polar Liquid Crystals

The usual nematic phase in liquid crystals is formed by rod-shaped molecules. However many liquid crystalline-forming molecules in nature are not straight. For instance, one can imagine banana-shaped and pizza-slice-shaped molecules. In this case, they form polar (or modulating polar) phase instead of nematic. In this talk, I will discuss these various phases. Finally, I will study the rheology of polar liquid crystals. Under weak shear flow, the transition from isotropic to polar is continuous (or second order) but under strong shear flow, the transition becomes discontinuous (or first order).

Friday 24 May 2019: Internal Minisymposium

2pm in CG60 (cake and drinks available from 1:30pm outside CG60)

This short afternoon symposium will feature a cross-section of research from areas covered in the Centre. Come along to find out about activities beyond your own area of Soft Matter. Thanks to sponsorship from NEPA, we are able to offer cake and tea before the talks.

2:00pm: Dr Chris Groves (Engineering): Beyond binary blends for improved lifetime and efficiency of organic solar cells
2:30pm: Dr Margarita Staykova (Physics): Together in shrinking: Tissue volume regulation

3:00pm: Dr John Bothwell (Biosciences): Visualising vesicles in vacuoles, or how lipids move around in seaweed cells

After the talks, members are welcome to stay for a short discussion on the format, scope and frequency of future inter-group meetings in the Centre.

8 April 2019: UK Fluids Network Early Career Researcher Event

Nottigham Trent University
This day-long event aimed at PhD students and Postdocs in soft matter will feature talks for improving your CV and advancing careers in academia or industry. It's a superb opportunity to meet researchers at a similar stage from across the UK, and present and discuss your work. Registration is free and travel refunds may be available. To take part, e-mail Jack Panter (Durham Physics).
Meeting flyer

29 March 2019: Seminar by Dr Roland Knorr

Department of Physics, James Knott Room (PH132), 10am

Fluido-phagy: Intracellular wetting regulates autophagy of phase separated condensates and the cytosol

Dr Roland Knorr (Max Planck Institute of Colloids and Interfaces, Potsdam)

Phase separation generates functional, subcellular condensates with fluid-like properties. The mechanisms that degrade fluid phases in cells, however, are not fully understood. Clearance of condensates involves autophagy, a conserved pathway in which membrane sheets isolate portions of the cytosol to form autophagosomes, which then fuse with lysosomes for cargo breakdown. Here, we studied the assembly of autophagic membranes at fluid interfaces in both living and synthetic cells. A minimal physical model shows that interfacial tension determines whether isolation membranes will sequester the condensate entirely, or will prematurely close and degrade the condensate in a piece-meal fashion. In the latter case, curvature-inducing proteins confer a regulatory switch that associates isolation membranes with condensates, however, without degrading them. Thus, condensates persist and serve as a platform to assemble cytosol-degrading autophagosomes repeatedly. Our findings suggest that the autophagic breakdown of fluids—fluidophagy—is a wetting phenomenon, which is controlled by elasto-capillary feedback between the phase-separated condensate and the isolating membrane.

20 March 2019: Seminar by Dr Rhoda Hawkins

Department of Physics, Room PH30, 1pm

Modelling mechanics of the cell nucleus

Dr Rhoda Hawkins (University of Sheffield)

Experiments on migrating cells in microfluidic devices have shown that cancer cells are able to deform their nucleus and move through small constrictions more easily than non cancerous cells. The cell nucleus is more solid like than the rest of the cell. Whilst the cytoplasm deforms relatively easily, the nucleus shows more resistance to deformation and restricts the ability of migratory cells to pass through small constrictions. I will present theoretical work that we have done to model the nucleus and calculate the traction force field required to deform the nucleus so a cell can pass through a constriction. We have developed an algorithm to calculate the traction force field from experimental images of deforming nuclei. The results of our calculations depend on the details of the mechanical properties of the model nucleus. I will therefore discuss the mechanical properties of the nucleus and ways we could improve our model. Finally, I will discuss the active mechanisms by which cells may generate the necessary forces to deform the nucleus.

5 December 2018: Mini-Symposium and General Meeting

1pm in the Bransden Room, Department of Physics. All welcome.

1:05pm: Dr Beth Bromley, Department of Physics, "Good vibrations"
1:25pm: Dr Fabian Wadsworth, Department of Earth Sciences, "Magma as soft matter"
1:45pm: Dr Matthew Kitching, Department of Chemistry, "Autonomous droplet reactors for chemical synthesis"
2:05pm: Short break
2:10pm: General Meeting of the Centre for Soft Matter
3:00pm: Close

12-13 September 2018: Workshop on modelling of wetting

The UK Fluid Network is holding a two-day workshop entitled Multiscale Modelling of Wetting Phenomena in the Hogan Lovells theatre of the Palatine Centre, co-organised by Halim Kusumaatmaja (Durham University), Rodrigo Ledesma-Aguilar (Northumbria University) and Ciro Semprebon (Northumbria University).

Please see the meeting's own web site for the programme of speakers and further details.

29 May 2018: Farewell Symposium for Prof. Tom McLeish, FRS

Department of Physics (PH30). Please follow this link to see the programme and to register for the event.

25 April 2018: Seminar by Prof. Paul van der Schoot

Professor Paul van der Schoot will be visiting from Eindhoven University of Technology. He will give a seminar at 1pm in PH30 on Wednesday 25 April. If you would like an individual slot to speak to Paul on the afternoon of Tuesday 24th or morning of Wednesday 25th, please contact Mark Miller.

Carbon Nanotube-Based Lyotropic Liquid Crystal Microdroplets in Bulk and on Solid Surfaces

Dispersions of long, rod-like particles such as carbon nanotubes are known to form spindle-shaped, cylindrically symmetric elongated nematic liquid crystalline droplets in coexistence with the isotropic phase. Their shape and director field structure depends on the size of the drops, the interfacial tension, anchoring strength and elastic constants. In contact with a wall, the droplets become more elongated due to the effects of line tension. By visualising hundreds of nematic droplets of carbon nanotubes dissolved in chlorosulfonic acid and applying elasticity theory to fit the data, we extract information on the elastic and surface properties of the droplets. For sessile drops we find that the ratio of the line tension and the interfacial tension for this particular system equals −0.84 ± 0.06 μm. This ratio is 2 orders of magnitude larger than what has been reported for conventional fluids, in agreement with scaling arguments.

25 October 2017: One-Day Workshop on Droplet Coalescence

Kenworthy Hall, St. Mary’s College, Durham University.

In this workshop we will have short talks from both academics and industrial representatives, which will hopefully stimulate the afternoon discussion session aiming to explore academic-industry opportunities in this research area.


09:30-10:00 Registration and refreshments (posters can be mounted during registration)
10:00-10:45 Industrial perspectives
10:45-11:15 Martin Sommerfeld (Martin Luther Universität Halle-Wittenberg)
11:15-11:30 Stephen Yeates (University of Manchester)
11:30-11:45 Bryan Bzdek (University of Bristol)
11:45-12:00 Halim Kusumaatmaja (Durham University)
12:00-13:30 Networking lunch and posters
13:30-14:00 Stefan Karpitschka (MPI-DS, Göttingen)
14:00-14:15 Alfonso Castrejon-Pita (University of Oxford)
14:15-14:30 Mark Wilson (University of Leeds)
14:30-14:45 Alice Thompson (University of Manchester)
14:45-15:00 Stephen Wilson (University of Strathclyde)
15:00-15:15 Coffee break
15:15-16.15 Discussion groups
16:15-16:30 Summary and future activities

There is no charge for this workshop. However, if you plan to attend and/or if you intend to bring a poster - PhD students and postdocs are particularly encouraged - please let Jim Fraser ( know.

13-15 September 2017: Nanofluidics in Biological Systems Workshop

Durham University.

This Joint PoLNet2 & Durham BSI Workshop will bring together people from biological/physiological background and physicists/engineers to discuss challenges and opportunities, both in terms of the fundamental scientific questions, and strategies/methods to answer them. The workshop will focus on systems where unusual biophysics takes place, often beyond existing theories e.g. aquaporins, fluid dynamics at biointerfaces and biolubircation between rubbing membranes.


6-8th September 2017: External Event - 2nd Edwards Symposium. Challenges and Opportunities in Soft Matter

University of Cambridge.

Background: This series marks a fitting tribute to the life and work of Professor Sir Sam Edwards FRS, one of the great scientific minds of the 20th Century. Sir Sam played a pivotal role in bringing advances in the physical sciences to bear on major industrial problems. His fundamental contributions to soft matter theory ranged from polymer melts, through gels, colloids, granular materials and glasses through to optimisation problems.


29 August – 1 September 2017: Addressing metastability in interfacial phenomena across multiple time and length scales

This CECAM workshop brings together theoreticians, simulators, and experimentalists dealing with multiscale aspects of interfacial systems. It will take place at the CECAM headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland. A tentative list of speakers includes:

Carlo Massimo Casciola (University of Rome I "La Sapienza")
Antonio Checco (Stony Brook)
Siegfried Dietrich (Max-Planck-Insitute for Intelligent Systems)
Graeme Henkelman (Austin University)
Stephan Herminghaus (Max-Planck-Institute for Dynamics and Self-Organization)
Lucio Isa (ETH Zurich)
Jim Lutsko (Université Libre de Bruxelles)
Samy Merabia (University of Lyon I)
Marcus Müller (University of Goettingen)
Frieder Mugele (University of Twente)
Ignacio Pagonabarraga (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology)
Weiqing Ren (National University of Singapore)
Eduardo Sanz (University Complutense of Madrid)
Richard Sear (University of Surrey)
Gareth Tribello (Queen's University Belfast)
Doris Vollmer (Max-Planck-Institute for Polymer Research)
Gary Wells (Northumbria University)
Julia Yeomans (Oxford University)

The workshop is now open to submissions of abstracts for posters and contributed talks. The deadline for submission is 1 July 2017. Please feel free to circulate this announcement to potentially interested colleagues. More details about the workshop can be found on the website.

Organisers: Alberto Giacomello (Rome, Italy), Halim Kusumaatmaja (Durham, UK), Simone Meloni (Rome, Italy)

25 May 2017: Seminar and Lunch: Drs Koopmans and Hofmann

13.00-14.30 Chemistry Department CG141


13.00 Lunch prior to seminar

13.30 Soft Matter: A Case for Self-Assembling Peptides, Dr Rudy Koopmans (abstract below)

14.00 Dr Sandra Hofmann

Abstract: Soft Matter: A Case for Self-Assembling Peptides, Dr Rudy Koopmans: Taking the long term view, materials of the future need to be conceived based on renewable natural principles. Peptides and proteins are functional oligomers and polymers par excellence demonstrating how their self-organisation capability enables the construction, from the bottom-up, of functional materials with unique performance characteristics. A few examples are presented.

Please register (by email to if you wish to attend.

13 April 2017: Workshop on 3D printing of soft and biological matter

12–2pm, James Knot Library, Physics Department

This joint workshop with the Biological Sciences Institute aims to explore the use of 3D printing in soft biological matter research in Durham. The event is a part of a University-EPSRC seedcorn award, which aims to identify common areas of interest in Durham and build a simple instrument to gather preliminary results needed for a future full grant application.

To register for the meeting please contact For more information about the meeting please contact

Grapol meeting 12 April 2017

12 April 2017: GRAPOL one-day Conference on Polymer Nanocomposites

As part of the Grapol (Engineering Innovation in Graphene Polymer Nanocomposites) project, we are organising a one-day meeting in London on 12 April 2017.


Registration and refreshments (posters can be mounted during registration)
10:00 Welcome address Dr Michael P Weir, University of Sheffield
Chair: Dr Michael P Weir, University of Sheffield
10:00-10:50 "Graphene Nanocomposites - Grapol"
Professor Karl Coleman, Durham University
10:50-11:10 Refreshments, posters and networking
11:10-11:50 "2D Reinforced Nanocomposites: Taking fundemental micro mechanics to bulk composites."
Professor Ian Kinloch, The University of Manchester
11:50-12:30 "Polymer-graphene nanocomposites for engineering and biomedical applications"
Dr Joao Cabral, Imperial College London
12:30-13:45 Lunch, posters and networking
Chair: Dr Richard Thompson, Durham University
13:45-14:25 "Polymer-graphene nanocomposites for engineering and biomedical applications"
Dr Biqiong Chen, University of Sheffield
14:25-15:05 Interface control in polymer nanocomposites
Professor Dr Philippe Dubois, National Composite Centre of Luxembourg
15:05-15:20 Refreshments, posters and networking
15:20-16:00 Creating material change: graphene enhanced polymers and polymer composites
Dr Matthew Thornton, HaydaleCS
16:00 Prize announcement, closing remarks and organisers acknowledgements
16:30 Conference close

For further details and registration, click on this IOP conference link.

Organisers: Dr Richard Thompson and Dr Mike Weir